How to create motivation to improve.

What is the best way for you to create motivation to keep focused?

I must admit that I wish I were Master rated so that I could speak with more authority on how you can improve your chess skills, and then if I analyzed your games with you I could tell you with the competence of an expert and professional of what would be the best way for you to improve your game and chess skills, just like a high priced coach would do for you. For that kind of help you now would be required to pay a skilled coach.

However since I am not qualified as such to give that kind of consul on a personal basis, I must do a lot of research to try to find interesting, stimulating, and useful materials that will help you to increase your chess skills.

How interesting, stimulating and useful these materials are to our members will vary from person to person. And depending on how intense is one's interest in improving in chess and is their motivation to improve these materials may or may not help them.

Since I am not master rated, I have thought hard on how I could best help my members improve even asking some of my more involved members and friends.

After spending some time considering this idea, I finally came to the conclusion that the most important consideration in my job to help you improve would be to stimulate your motivation towards improving in chess.

I want to build a hot fire under your feet to get you moving in this direction.

Chess should be fun and entertaining for you. So much so that you will be willing to give up other pleasures. (Well not sex of course!) But those other things that can take up your time. Like TV for example. I consider most of TV to really be a waste of time except the national news at 5:30 Pm and on Sat or Sun if a really good movie is on. Which I have to admit is getting rare.

But how, is the question to build motivation?

You may be surprised at the answers I finally concluded were the correct way to succeed.


I began thinking about my past interest in Ham Radio when I had this intense burning desire to excel up the ladder from the lowest rank of Novice up to the ranks to the top of the heap of Ham Radio to the highest class license available to the ham radio amateur, the Amateur Extra Class License.

I had long ago passed my Novice ham license and now I began the long journey to a more lofty level. After a lot of study I finally took and passed the General Class License test, passing a code test of 13 WPM Words Per Minute and all the requirements for the General Class license.

I truly felt elated and proud of myself to have accomplished this feat. But I soon realized that the real test was not being able to pass a General Class ham radio license test. The real test is going to be able to stay focused and motivated to continue on day after day and not get discouraged to the point of giving up in favor of other interests in order to study for the Advanced Class Radio License that I estimated will take me over a year. The one thing that may keep me going is the high I experienced in finally passing the General Class exam after spending so much time in study, I thought to myself.

I drew confidence from that experience to think just how I would feel If I were to conqueror a really hard exam and how I would feel when I finally did succeed. It almost gave me goose bumps just thinking about it.

The realization then struck me that:

The harder is the task the greater will be the reward for succeeding.

That is something that no amount of money can buy. You can't buy happiness is the old saying and until you really work hard for some goal and finally succeed you will never feel that experience. You can't pay some one else to succeed for you if you want to be proud of your accomplishments.

Just like you can't use a chess program to assist you in winning games if you want to feel proud of those wins. You can't cheat at life's obstacles. Only you can sweep them aside with hard work.

I then began my studies early after supper every single night intently for over a year to pass the Advanced Class License, which required a Morris code test of 20 WPM and very complex studies in electrical theory in AC and DC circuits, a lot of radio receiver and transmitter theory with its corresponding circuit knowledge and math. Rules and operating requirements, regulations and procedures, International Regulations and Rules and special knowledge of regulations that apply exclusively to the Amateur Advanced class license. I knew from past experience that if you only study to know the code at 20 WPM you will never pass the code test because of being so nervous at the time of the exam. To pass that code test you must be able to copy solid with out any mistakes of at least 25 WPM and study the code up to 30 and even 35 WPM. With a lot of practice you can copy with pencil at 20 WPM but beyond that you will need to type it so that your typing skills will also have to be honed for accuracy as well.

Did I finally pass the Advanced Class License Federal Communications Commission test? Yes I did pass the FCC Advanced Class Radio Amateur License test, and also very nearly passed the test for the Extra Class License as well. That was the motivation and intensity of my study. My Radio Amateur Call letters for the Advanced Class License I now hold are registered in the Amateur Radio Call books as; KB9AE Effective date is now 01/12/95 for a renewal license. Station Privileges are PRIMARY.

Does this not sound familiar to you?

Why do I tell you all this?

Because passing that test is very similar to your desire to rise up through the ranks in chess.

Here is how I progressed and finally succeeded.

You first need a very intense desire, and motivation to keep you on track and not give up when you reach a plateau in your code studies which every one does do. You just stagnate at some level and can't seem to progress any higher. The only way to go beyond that point I found out was to OVER STUDY! You must then really put your heart into wanting to progress, and then do it. You must think that given enough time I just have to do better.

1. You must find within you the desire to rise up and defeat your stagnation. You must get really mad at yourself for not progressing and then get back to work and just study harder than you have ever studied before until you finally do progress beyond that plateau. That is how I succeeded at code to be able to copy at 35 WPM. Not solid of course but well enough that I could form readable sentences from on the air code practice sessions from the (ARRL) American Radio Relay League's W1AW radio station in Newington, CT. that gives code practice every night with speeds from 5 to 35 WPM. I also had code practice tapes and code practice records. I would study code for several hours every night 7 days a week. I really wanted to pass that test.

2. I knew that I would not pass the code test if I only could copy the required 20 WPM level at test time so I studied to copy well beyond that.

Is this not similar to playing a rated game of chess when you really do want to win? When you get nervous you tend to make mistakes. And trying to solve a tactical problem may become difficult. But when not playing a game you might solve the same problem almost immediately, it just may mysteriously and suddenly becomes clear to you.

This should tell you that in order to defeat more opponents at your level of play you need to study to be prepared beyond what you may think you may need to know to defeat them, because in the heat of the game you may get nervous and have doubts as to your abilities.

The only way to defeat those doubts is to over study and gain confidence in yourself and your abilities. It will be in that over study that you put in so much time that will build the confidence that will enable you to overcome your doubts. Then you may think to your self that there is no way that this guy will beat me because I am sure that I am more skilled than he because I have studied to the point that I now know more about chess than he ever will know. Now he not I will be the one who is going to be getting nervous as I show him how to play chess. How can you possibly lose with a confidence factor like that! Only if you get complacent and blunder.

Do you not think that if you do not do this you may only be at a knowledge level equal to your opponents? If you want to defeat them you need to know more than what they know do you not?

A good example of this is that once I won what seemed like was going to be a drawn game because I studied and knew how to get a passed pawn and Queen it when faced with three pawns against my three pawns. You can too in our section on Endgame Training, How to get a Passed Pawn.

That is how to study to become successful. Of course you will still lose games, but only to those who are more skilled than you are. As soon as you begin your new over study program you will begin to notice a marked improvement in winning more games from less skilled players. But don't get discouraged from the losses. You will gain valuable knowledge from those losses and gain new motivation to try harder to gradually reduce those losses and also new ideas in knowledge to increase your chess skills as well.

3. If you were an alcoholic and wanted to stop most know that a good way to quit is to join the AAA. One of the reasons that they have become so successful is that they have formed a group of people with similar interests who meet and discuss quitting as a group.

It's the same with the Weight Watchers group and many other such groups. They all have in common that a group builds motivation to keep at it. No one wants others to point a finger at them for quitting. It similar with wanting to quit smoking. If you tell all your relatives, friends, co-works, and every one you know that you are going to quit smoking then you are building motivation to do so because you don't want to face the embarrassment of not doing so. Every one hates a quitter is the saying.

Also you get a lot of encouragement from all the others especially if they are in a similar group. They will help you to get over the hurdles and keep you on track and focused to keep at it. Every day you are in that group you will feel more confident that you can make it because others are telling you that you can if you stick with the program. Others are telling you that if they could do it so can you.

For many with out that group with similar interests they just would soon lose interest and quit. Call it a crutch if you will but you have to do what ever works and if joining a group is going to make you successful then you should certainly do it. The enthusiasm of the group is contagious and such positive thinking is bound to infect you just as surely as a cold virus would.

I found the same motivation from the Amateur Radio ham club that I belonged to. Especially from a few good friends that I made there who were inspirational in their accomplishments. Surrounding your self with friends who do well is a good way for you to become a achiever as well.

4. I found another motivation factor in passing my first Amateur exam was the high I experienced in passing the Federal exam when after putting in so much study and spent so much time in perpetration I could hardly wait to try it and after I passed it I was as giddy as a school boy in love for the first time. I felt light headed and all warm and fuzzy inside. I was proud; I was on top of the world. I wanted to shout to the world on a roof top, look every one what I just accomplished today! I still feel a rush every time I think about it, just like your first love.

To help keep me motivated to pass the Advanced exam I started teaching ham radio at a high school at nights. After a while I was teaching three classes of about 15 to 25 in a class, mostly adults. A novice class, a General and a Advanced Class. I became so successful that I was told that I was responsible for having more people pass their exams and adding more hams to the local ham club than they did in all the years that they had the club and tried the same thing. Their problem with their teaching was that soon after a class would start the teacher who was usually just a local ham would lose interest and just quit!

I even had a half dozen of my Advanced class students ask me to hold classes and teach them how to pass the Extra Class Exam license. That I declined for I just did not have the time to make the study lessons needed for such a complex exam and the fact that I was not a Extra Class ham yet. Also I needed time for my own studies.

But by teaching, I was taught. I had to prepare lessons to teach and I had to really know the materials well in order to teach it and not embarrass myself at the black board. I had to be able to answer questions. I had to prepare exams and tests both in theory for class time and to measure their progress and give sample exams of what I thought would be asked in the Federal exams. I had to motivate and inspire my student to not give up when the material got more difficult and complex.

I experienced the same exhilarating and inspiring high with the General Class Exam as well, but with the Advanced Exam it was different. Because it took me over a year of study to prepare for it, I was so nervous near test time I thought I was going to be sick form all the tension. I was beginning to have doubts about me passing it a month before the test due date in Chicago. How could I ever get up the nerve to go take it I thought to myself? I could never drive to Chicago to the Federal Building with out getting into a accident I would be so nervous. I was so afraid of failure I wanted to just forget about taking the exam and just be content with what I had accomplished.

But then a Ham friend of mine who belonged to the same ham club I did had a talk with me when I told him of my apprehensions and gave me the encouragement and confidence to go ahead and take the exam.

This is what he told me.

He said what do you have to lose? If you fail you still win. Why? Well for several reasons. Because now you know what to expect at test time. You will have had a chance to actually look at a real Federal Exam which you could not have done with any study materials you could have purchased. You will have had the chance to know at the code test if you have prepared enough to pass it. And of course the odds are that there is a good chance that you will indeed pass the exam. And finally there is always a much better chance you will pass it next time you take it if you don't pass it because now you know what to expect. It was like the Feds opened up a high security door in a highly secret room to let you in to take a peak.

What more could you possibly ask for?

That is the power of having close friends to encourage you to succeed. That is why you need to belong to a club or group that gives you encouragement. That is why you should surround yourself with positive thinking friends and stay away from negative thinking people. That is why you should also encourage others to succeed because when they do they will thank you and you in turn will feel good about your self that you gave your time to help some one that needed it. Your empathy towards others and unselfish desires to help others will benefit you in turn in that it will help to keep you motivated toward your goals.

Is this not similar to when you challenge a chess player or chess comp that is rated higher than you? Even if you lose you still win because you will have had a learning experience, a lesson in how to play chess better than you have been playing just as surely as if you had paid for a chess lesson from a chess coach.

I can not think of any better way to motivate you than to impart my thoughts and experience in how I succeeded at passing my ham radio exams. You may also find inspirational ideas and motivation from others who succeeded when they were faced with adversity in various endeavors.

I become inspired when I watch public TV's Nova. When they showed how a group try to climb to the summit of Mount Everest and have to take months in doing so and face death at each step to the top.

The point here is that there can be no greater joy for you as when you finally experience the high you get when after a long hard struggle and long battle of preparation you finally succeed after many failures. No one can tell you how that feels.

No one can tell you how that inner glow will warm your thoughts every time you think about how you finally mastered the test and experienced the success. That experience and satisfaction may last you a life time and can not be purchased with any amount of money. Its just priceless and truly a worthwhile goal to try to achieve.

The best things in life really are free, and the high you can experience from success, from achievement is one of them. Also the harder is the task and the more time it takes to achieve success the greater is the high your going to experience when you finally do it.

Can you imagine the high you would experience if after many years of intense study and thousands of chess games you finally made it to the Masters level? To do that you need a USCF rating of 2200 or ELO of 2100. Do you think that is a worthwhile goal? Do you think you might achieve it if you really put your mind to do that? Do you think you could maintain the motivation to keep at it until you did?

If you found a group that was dedicated to doing just that, would you join it? Would you get a lot of satisfaction out of watching your rating steadily increase throughout the months of study and analysis of your games?

The problem with a group is that it needs positive thinking people who are convinced that they will succeed. If some of the people in the group were basically negative thinking people who had negative thoughts and doubts about succeeding those people would soon infect the others with those doubts as well. You can't just shoot them and get rid of them so you try to convert them to be positive thinking people, and if they refuse you then have no choice but to abandon them so as to save the others from the affliction that they have. You must tell them to leave to save the others. Somewhat similar to the stories of too many in a life raft at sea with a very limited supply of fresh water. It may be cruel but that is life. Life is not fair.

You may not want to read all of these requirements to pass the test for the Amateur Radio FCC Extra Class License, but I am going to give you a sample of these requirements for a reason.

Just to give you some idea of how complex is the requirements to pass the FCC Extra Class License for Amateur Radio, you may want to glance over some of the things you would have to study.

In addition to be able to pass a Morris code test of 20 WPM (Words per minute) test you will have to be thoroughly familiar with a lot of radio theory, and its associated math and a lot of rules and regulations as well. In fact its not far from passing a test for an Electrical Engineer.

To pass the Extra Class License, The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) examination is the most comprehensive of all the FCC ham radio tests. It requires knowledge such that the questions are worded in such a way that the correct answer can be determined only on the basis of a through understanding of the principles involved. Simple memorization of a few questions and answers is not going let you pass the test. Does this sound familiar to you?

You will have to be familiar with FM Frequency Modulation, and FM Repeaters, VHF (Very High Frequencies) Antenna theory, Specialized communications in UHF Ultra High frequencies.

You will have to study such complex subjects as Tropospheric Bending, Transequatorial Propagation, Stratosphieric Reflection, Low level modulation, speech clipping, speech compression and Phase modulation. You will also be expected to be familiar with facsimile and pulse modulation in addition to the entire subjects covered in the General class and Advanced Class license tests. You will be expected to be familiar with all the complex math involved in AC circuit theory. Such as Time constants in resistance capacitance, and resistance inductance impedance circuit theory. Which uses the Pythagorean theorem. Find the Reactance, inverse inductive ano capacitive reactance, phase angles, total admittance, parallel coil circuit impedance inverse reactance and total admittance. Calculate the phase angles using Tan and Arc Tan formulas. Find the circuit inductive capacitive reactance, impedance and admittance in series and parallel tuned resonant circuits. Know about RC Differentiation and Integration and calculate the internal velocity in a differentiator circuit. Know about Nonsinusoidal waves, power amplifier circuits, phase inverter theory and circuits, thyristors, power supply theory and circuits, Amateur Television theory and circuits, High Frequency Transmitting Circuits, Frequency Multipliers, Oscillators, Antenna and transmission line theory, VHF and UHF Antennas, Complex Transmission Line math to find the SWR or Standing-wave-ratio in degrees of a transmission line to the antenna. Propagation theory of high frequency radio waves. How to build a low pass filter for a 20 meter transmitter that will attenuate the second harmonic frequency.

Here is a typical question on the final exam. A 427 MHZ transmitter uses a low loss coaxial tank circuit in the final amplifier plate circuit. Assuming the final amplifier is grid modulated with a 5 MHz bandwidth TV signal, what would be the optimum loaded Q of the tank circuit?

You need to know all the operating requirements, practices, regulations and procedures to legally operate a amateur radio station. Operation of a Amateur Station for Civil Emergency service or (RACES)

Plus you need to know all the International Regulations and Rules and all the regulations and rules for radio communications between amateur stations and those of different counties. Especially those special rules that apply exclusively to the Amateur Extra class license. Like those rules that govern fast scan amateur television and those frequencies that are authorized only to the Extra Class license above 14,000 KHz

Why is all of this significant to chess?

If all of the above sounds very complex to you and you think why would any one in his right mind want to spend the time to understand all of it to the point that they could pass the Federal Extra Class exam. The reason to study for the highest class license when all you want to pass is the Advanced class license is the same as the reason to study to try to master 35 WPM when the exam only requires a 20 WPM proficiently. If one only studies to pass the code at 20 wpm the chance he will pass it may be from 50% to 75% but if he studies to become proficient at 35 wpm then the odds will increase dramatically upwards to 80 or 95% to pass because you have over studied to insure success. It would be the same if you wanted to become Master rated. (USCF 2200) If you only spent the time to become proficient enough to try to become a Master rated chess player you are betting the odds that this is all you have to do to make It. But if you really want to insure success at that level you instead would be wise to try to become a GM,(USCF 2600) or IM,(International Master USCF 2400) or at least a FM (FIDE Master USCF 2300). Then if you failed at that goal you would feel confident that since you now know so much about chess and your skills have risen so significantly the odds are very much in your favor to easily make it. Aron Nimzovich in his book My System observed that to really secure a position from harm you must use a energetic and systematic application of prophylactic measures. Every important point ought to be over-protected.

And so it follows to ensure success in obtaining some goal you ought to apply as much leverage in that direction as you possibly can to be absolutely sure beyond a reasonable doubt that you will succeed. You must do whatever it takes and do those things what ever is necessary to accomplish your goal.

I gave up much to obtain my Advanced ham license both in time spent and in frustration and stress.

To succeed you have to ask your self some very tough questions. The question for you is how badly do you want it?

1. What are you willing to give up to get it?

2. What sacrifices are you willing to make to get it?

3. How much value do you place on it?

4. What are you willing to spend to achieve it? Both in your time and money?

If you answer not much. Then you should know that Mediocrity means, bare adequacy. If you want to be like the rest of the below average level chess players and follow in their examples in mediocrity then you don't have to try very hard to improve your chess skills. In fact you don't have to even try at all. Being a mediocre person is easy. Just do nothing. They feel that all one has to do to improve is simply play games. That's it, just play games. Is that how you feel too?